Sunday, July 23, 2017

Smelling the Roses

On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11: 23b-24 NLT)
Wake-up & Smell the Roses

Legendary sportscaster, Vince Scully, once said, “God gave us memories so we could have roses in December.”  Remembering the Cross of Christ puts everything in perspective in our Christian experience.

Life is about thorns and roses, the bad and good things we experience. We live in a fallen world.  People are not perfect.  Even the very elect, our brothers, and sisters are not faultless.  If you have not found that out, you will, but don’t become too judgmental because you are in that group also.  In any relationship, things happen that are good and some that are not. Memories are about all of our life experiences.  We do not have control over what happens to us, but we do have influence, at least in part, in what we remember.  We can choose to forgive and move on or hold on to the negative.  Jesus did not wait for us to become good, he died for us even while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8 NLT).  Seeking forgiveness from God for ourselves and yet refusing to forgive others, reveals how little we understand the extent of our forgiveness.

We need both the roses and thorns. That beautiful flower grows out of the stem that has the barbs.  Our journey to spiritual maturity to the “mountain of delights,” often goes through the valley of despair. Even Jesus himself “learned obedience through the things he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8 NLT).  When others are mistreating you, and your life feels dark and bleak, like the weather in December, think about what Christ did for you on that tree. Then wake-up and smell the roses.

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Seeking the Gift or the Giver

Why do we follow Jesus?
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.
 (John 6:26 NIV)

Years ago, when I worked with YWAM, we did an evangelistic outreach on the 4th of July on the National Mall in Washington DC.  One year we gave away chicken to draw people to our table to share Christ with them.  Two hippie-looking guys came walking past our table. One of them was munching on one of our pieces of chicken. I overheard him say to the other guy, “yeah, just tell them that you love Jesus and they will give you one.” I never did see the other guy come back, but if he did it would have been about his stomach rather than his heart. Why we follow God is crucial to our spiritual journey.  Jesus saw through the hypocrisy of the peoples’ motive for seeking him.  They pursued the temporal blessing rather than the eternal ones.  They cared more about the gift than the giver.

I once attended a church.  It was a good group of believers.  We believed God heard and answered our prayers.  People came into our midst with many needs.  Some had need of physical healing, others had marital problems, and others in need of financial miracles. On many occasions, God met those needs, but for some, he did not.  We noticed that for some of those who did not have their prayers answered, their attendance started to waver. Then we did not see them at all. I believe for many of them; they were seeking the gift more than the giver.  Anytime we want what we can get from God more than God, we have created an idol in our lives.  As human parents, we love to bless our children, but there are times where we understand that giving them what they want may not be the most loving thing to do.  God sometimes withholds from his children out of love.

God is good all the time.  God is loving when he answers our prayers, when he says wait, or even when he says no.  Do we love God just for what we can get from him, or because of who he is, a loving Father?  Do we seek the gift or the giver?

Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing